Kentucky lawmakers, commission discuss horse racing safety regulations

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky horse racing officials say they are well aware that their industry is under heavy scrutiny.

With horse deaths accumulating across racetracks around the country in recent months, some proposed regulations are hoping to make the sport safer one step at a time. A committee of state lawmakers met today in Frankfort to review some of those proposals already being implemented by other states.

"If somebody's got an idea, another jurisdiction is using something that seems to be working for them, we're going to try it in Kentucky,” said Marc Guilfoil, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

That goes for things like the “voided claim rule” and an expansion of out-of-competition testing already in place in other states. The voided claim rule is designed to encourage trainers to run only healthy horses in claims races.

These proposed regulations received some support from industry professionals inside the committee meeting.

"We know on the out-of-competition testing and the voided claim rule that this hits the most vulnerable part of the horse population in training, and this is doing everything to try to ensure the safety of both horse and rider,” said Chauncey Morris, Executive Director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association.

The committee that heard today’s testimonies does not vote to approve or reject regulations, but simply reviews them, and works with the involved groups. Today, the committee chairman urged members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to watch out for unintended consequences that could arise from these proposals.

That’s because others opposed some of the proposals today and brought up concerns.

"I think we are all for good strong regulation. The regulation that's being proposed is pretty much straight out of California's handbook. If you're paying any attention in the business, we do not want to follow California,” said local veterinarian Dr. Andrew Roberts.

This committee may meet again in May should any changes need to be made to the new regulations. All of those involved said they know there is more work need to be done, but these are important first steps to take.